National Residue Survey 2019–20 Pome fruit

​Publication details

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, December 2020

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Key points

  • In 2019–20, the overall compliance with Australian standards was 99.74 per cent.
  • Australian pome fruit producers continue to demonstrate a high degree of good agricultural practice.
  • The National Residue Survey’s quality management system is ISO 9001:2015 certified.

The National Residue Survey (NRS) operates within the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and since 1992 has been funded by industries through levies and direct contracts.

The NRS is an essential part of Australia’s pesticide and veterinary medicine residue management framework providing verification of good agricultural practice in support of chemical control-of-use legislation and guidelines.

NRS programs monitor the levels of, and associated risks from, pesticides and veterinary medicine residues and contaminants in Australian food products. The programs help to facilitate and encourage ongoing access to domestic and export markets. NRS supports Australia’s primary producers and food processors who provide quality animal, grain and horticulture products which meet both Australian and relevant international standards.

Pome fruit program overview

The pome fruit program is a cooperative arrangement between the National Residue Survey, Apple & Pear Australia Ltd. (APAL) and the Australian pome fruit industry. Since 1998, the pome fruit program has been funded by the NRS component of the statutory levy on apple and pear production.

The program involves testing of pome fruit for a range of pesticides, environmental contaminants and microorganisms, which ensures industry can meet quality assurance and market access requirements for domestic and international markets. The program is into its second season of offering patulin testing for apple and pear juice.

Sample collection

Each year, up to 400 pome fruit samples are collected from packing sheds, markets and growers throughout Australia, in accordance with NRS procedures.  Once collected, samples are freighted to the contract laboratory for analysis. All data collected is entered into the NRS Information Management System and residue testing reports are generated.

Analytical screens

Analytical screens are developed in consultation with the industry and take into account chemicals registered in Australia, chemical residue profiles and overseas market requirements.

Apple and pear samples are screened for a range of different insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, environmental contaminants and microorganisms, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Analytical screens for the pome fruit program
Analytical screen Chemical group Analytes
Multi-residue pesticide screen Insecticide 94 analytes including acephate, abamectin, bifenthrin, diazinon, malathion, pyrethrin and spinosad
Fungicides 55 analytes including azoxystrobin, boscalid, captan, iprodione, fludioxonil and propiconazole
Herbicides 47 analytes including atrazine, bromacil, clopyralid, isoxaben, norflurazon and simazine
Organochlorines aldrin and dieldrin, chlordane, DDT, endosulfan, endrin, HCB, lindane (gamma HCH), heptachlor and mirex
Physiological modifier diphenylamine
Metals Elements arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead and mercury
Microorganisms and food pathogens Bacteria Thermotolerantcoliforms, Escherichia coli, Listeria species, Salmonella species, coagulase-positive Staphylococcus species
Contaminants Mycotoxin Patulin

Results

In 2019–20, a total of 389 pome fruit and juice samples were collected for residue analysis. The results were compared with Australian standards and where appropriate, relevant international standards. All 365 fruit samples were subjected to a multi-residue screen and the 24 juice samples were tested for patulin. 

215 samples were tested for metals in addition to the multi-residue screen. The results indicated detections only of arsenic, cadmium and copper.  These low-level detections help reinforce the contaminant-free status of Australian pome fruits.

In addition to the multi-residue screen and metal screen, 196 pome fruit samples were tested for microorganisms and food pathogens. None of the samples had contaminants detected above the Limit of Reporting (LOR). The results show excellent compliance with Australian food safety standards and demonstrate the strong commitment of the pome fruit industry to good agricultural practice.

A summary of compliance with Australian standards for pesticide residues over the past five years is provided in Table 2. The results highlight consistent compliance with Australian standards and help maintain the reputation and integrity of Australian pome fruit in domestic and international markets.

The yearly summary datasets for the pome fruit program are located on the department’s website

Table 2. Rates of pesticide compliance with Australian standards over the past five years
  Apple program Pear program
Year Samples
collected
Compliance rates (%) Samples
collected
Compliance rates (%)
2015–16 282 97.9 94 95.7
2016–17 248 98.0 99 98.0
2017–18 250 95.2 85 90.6
2018–19 245 98.4 77 98.7
2019–20 290 99.7 75 100

Laboratory selection and performance

The NRS contracts laboratories to analyse animal and plant product samples for pesticide/veterinary medicine residues and environmental contaminants.

Laboratories are selected through the Australian Government tendering process on the basis of their proficiency and value for money. Laboratories must be accredited to international standard ISO/IEC 17025 at commencement of testing.

Contracted laboratories are proficiency tested by the NRS to ensure the validity of their analytical results and technical competence.

The NRS has been accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities as a proficiency test provider since July 2005.

International export markets

The NRS maintains information on maximum residue limits (MRLs) that apply for Australia and major export markets for industries supported by the NRS. All analysis results are checked for compliance with Australian standards and relevant international MRLs.

For the Australian MRL standard see legislation.gov.au/Series/F2019L01105 (use the latest version).

For MRL requirements for some international export markets see links at agriculture.gov.au/nrs-databases.

Last reviewed: 22 December 2020
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